I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to young learners for nearly two years in Taiwan. I lived in LinKou, just outside of Taipei. From the capital city, you actually pass this district on your way to the airport in Taoyuan. I have been back in South Africa, my home country, for a few years now. I still teach ESL on occasion while also working on some other projects.
Every now and again, I think back to my time in Taiwan, and what I miss about it. Further to that, if I ever decide to teach ESL abroad again, I know that in a heartbeat I would choose Taiwan over any other ESL teaching destination in Asia.
“Why?”, you might ask.
I actually have at least 10 reasons for this. Read further to find out why Taiwan is the only teaching ESL destination in Asia for me.
And there’s also this: 5 Amazing Things to Do in Taiwan
I love to travel, seeing different counties, cities, and landmarks, and learning about different histories, people, and cultures. As such, choosing Taiwan should be no surprise. There are many beautiful sites in Taiwan to see, like Fulong Beach, Yanmingshan, Hualien and Taroko National Park, Kaohsiung, Sun Moon Lake, and Maokong and Beitou in Taipei.
2. Salary & Savings
When compared to other counties in Asia for teaching ESL, Taiwan ranks well. In fact, your salary for teaching ESL – whether in a public or private school, or a buxiban, is quite good when compared to other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and China. On average, I earned between NT$ 60 000 – 70 000 per month (±US$ 2 000). While living and teaching English in Taiwan, my goal was to save money and, on average, I easily saved between US$ 500 – 1 000 on average per month.
Which is one of the Top Reasons to Choose Asia for your First Teaching Contract.
3. Tax Returns
For foreigners working with an ARC in Taiwan, wages are taxed at 18%. However, if you stay in the country for more than 183 days, then the tax rate gets dropped to 5% after the 183 days. This is definitely a plus for foreign ESL teachers, and you can also get a tax return of ± NT$ 60 000 at the end of the financial year. (And the process is ridiculously easy compared to most Western nations.)
4. Friendly People
The friendliness of the Taiwan people is definitely another reason why I would move back to Taiwan to teach English without thinking twice. Whenever I had a confused look on my face (especially in the beginning when I had just moved to LinKou/Taipei), the people were always not only friendly, but also tried to be helpful, too.
5. Safe Environment
While there is crime in Taiwan, and locals would warn you to stay away from certain areas, this country is generally safe for foreigners. I can say that as a girl, I never felt scared to be in a taxi by myself in the middle of the night nor afraid to walk outside at night.
Further to that, when it rains, you need to leave your umbrella outside a store, like at the 7-Eleven. At first, I felt a little traumatised to do so; anyone knows that, here in South Africa, if you leave something and look away, it is not going to be there for long (and sure, that might sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t). It is safe to leave your umbrella outside the store – you can trust that it will still be there when you have finished your shopping in Taiwan.
6. The Bubble
This might sound weird to anyone who hasn’t lived in Taiwan or even to those who have lived/are currently living there, but living in Taiwan for me felt like living in a bubble. Time seem to pass by even faster than it did normally and it felt like I was more sheltered from the happenings from around the world.
While I love and missed having a Woolworths (my favourite supermarket-like store here in South Africa), while I was in Taiwan, it was nice having three 7-Elevens from which to choose within in 2km radius of my apartment. If the one was out sparkling water or my favourite ice tea, I could easily and with no fuss visit the next one to see if they perhaps had what I wanted. Additionally, I loved that the 7-Eleven was open 24/7; convenience is a fitting word. I also missed all the thing one could do at just one store: buy food, something to drink, and stationery; pay your bills; recharge your cell phone; send packages; buy tickets to a show; print, copy, and fax; use free Wi-Fi; and use an ATM.
8. Free Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi (even though you need to sign up to use it) is definitely another reason for why I wouldn’t think twice about moving back to Taiwan. iTaiwan is available in main tourist locations, transportation hubs, cultural landmarks, and even government offices.
9. Public Transportation
Public transportation in Taiwan is without a doubt a very good reason to move there. Public transport is affordable, clean, and on time, and whenever there is a queue, people stand in line, waiting, in an orderly fashion. Using buses to get from LinKou to Taipei, for example, was a breeze, as was using the MRT and high-speed rail.
Want to know more about living in Taiwan? A First-Timer in Taiwan: Some Cultural Differences
10. Medical Facilities
It is pretty safe to say that when working with kids, you are going to get sick. Unfortunately for me, I was sick with a cold and flu more often than I wanted to be while living in Taiwan. As a foreign ESL teacher, I had to belong to the national health care aid, and pay a minimum amount per month. When I had to go see a doctor, I paid something like NT$ 150 for the doctor’s visit and I got medication ‘for free’ for at least four days, which is quite cheap if I compare visiting a doctor and getting medicine here in South Africa.
As you read, there are at least 10 reasons why Taiwan is a great country in which to teach English as a Second Language; for me, I would move back to Taiwan to teach ESL in a heartbeat if the opportunity arises.
What are some reasons you think Taiwan is the best ESL teaching destination in Asia?
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About the Author
Denine Walters is currently a freelance writer, editor/proofreader and ESL teacher. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world and, before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In her free time, she likes to read, do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes, and travel.